On reading Pearl Clarke-Alfred's book A Unique Legacy For Enrichment—the who's who of the foundation members of Sangre Grande and pioneers and famous landmarks—it echoes a time in the town's glorious past.
Some of the illustrious sons and daughters of the soil are Dr Mabel Joseph, first female doctor of Sangre Grenade, Dr Inderjit Dial, first male doctor, Dr Manuel Alfonzo, Clarke-Alfred's schoolmate, Eastlyn Dasent and Louis Antoine, secondary education, Arthur Cockburn of Pioneer Pharmacy and pharmacist Mr Inniss, Michael Cockburn, first ordained Catholic priest, Canon Farquahr, the first Anglican priest of African descent,
Samuel Juteram, owner Apollo Cinema; Marlay & Company, in addition to being a buying agent for cocoa, coffee and tonka beans, Marlay's also boasted a grocery, dry goods, fabric and haberdashery, bar and soda water factory, with its own unique branded bottles being imported from the US.
Speaking at her Mc Shine Street home, Clarke-Alfred said "It's my fourth book, part of it is about family and is written in two parts. The first part tells about what I would like to leave as a legacy and everything I do is guided by the principles of Jesus. I try to show them whoever will come after and the traditions that we must cherish.
"The second part is about the pioneers of Sangre Grande. My mother, May Julia Clarke lived to 96, my father George Earnest Clarke lived to a 100, he was a tailor by profession and also a Guardian salesman, and my mother was a housewife.
"They instilled values in our lives and we were brought up under hard, difficult conditions, what we would call the poverty line."
She said, however, that while they experienced poverty, it was never in the teaching of dignity as her father was a strict disciplinarian.
Clarke-Alfred, 85, said she didn't originally grow up with her parents, but with her paternal grandmother in Guaico. The former Cumana RC Primary School principal said she only went to live with her parents at 12 years when her grandmother died. Clarke-Alfred said it was difficult for her because she was accustomed to living with her grandmother and two cousins.
She said she joined her parents and ten siblings and eventually fell in line but there were always more children in the house.
Clarke-Alfred said she was the first child of her parents and the first girl, there were no amenities such as electricity or pipe-borne water in their house back then, electricity reached Sangre Grande in 1946.
She said she had to go through a neighbour's yard to reach a standpipe across the road to fill buckets and tote them on her head to fill barrels, and water numerous flowers and plants before going to school barefoot.
Clarke-Alfred said she went to Guiaco Presbyterian School and received the best education it had to offer.
When asked how her parents made out feeding more than ten children, she said her father purchased a piece of land with all types of fruit trees.
She said they planted vegetables and provision gardens, cocoa, coconut, coffee, fruits of all kinds, different mango trees. people would come to buy and they even made copra and sold to CGA in Barataria.
Clarke-Alfred said her mother ensured that every one of her children could cook, she had a sweet hand and made fry bake, pelau, cow heel soup, fish broth, callaloo, roti, sweet bread, pone, paymee, ginger beer, and cocoa tea.
She said her mother was a Jane-of-all trades actually making the bricks for the family house further up the road from where she resided with the help of Mr Chappins the mason, using a brick mould. Clarke-Alfred said the house took two years to build in the 50s and was constructed by her father's friend, William Boatswain.
The mother of two said in her time people lived in a friendlier environment, everyone knew one another, her children came like the neighbour's children and vice versa.
Clarke-Alfred said she hated the burglar proofing in her house, but it was necessary for the peace of mind of her two sons, Mark and Wendell, who live in the US. She said now people were too individualistic and didn't see a simpler, genteel time coming back, it was a whole new era.
Clarke-Alfred said she would like Sangre Grande to have a new, modern hospital.
She said sometimes there were no beds, patients spent three to four days in Casualty with the air-conditioning breaking down.
She said patients came from Matelot, Mayaro, Guayaguayare, even leaving San Fernando, Port-of-Spain and Maraval to come to the Sangre Grande hospital for the excellent service.
Clarke-Alfred said while the doctors and staff were excellent and hardworking people, she can see them becoming frustrated under the conditions they are working.